The launch of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has definitely encouraged the sport of football in the country. While more youth have been drawn to the sport, the ISL teams are doing what they can to give youngsters a platform to showcase their talent. After winning the inaugural season of the league, Atletico de Kolkata brought West Bengal’s Indian Football Association’s (IFA) Nursery League back to life. While some may argue that the team had selfish interests in doing so, the fact of the matter is that nearly 2000 children below the age of 14 got a chance to play competitive football. The club used the league to source new talent to train, and the team’s talent spotters looked for 15 to 20 children to send for the ISL grassroots development programme.
In the second season of the ISL, the West Bengal team were unable to reach the finals, but they haven’t let this interfere with their strong grassroots programme. Sanjiv Goenka, co-owner of the club, has spoken about his hopes of also acquiring a foreign team, but for now, his immediate focus is to build a football academy in Kolkata and really work on grassroots football in the country.